Sun Tzu Criticism - Essay

Samuel B. Griffith (essay date 1963)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Griffith, Samuel B. Introduction to The Art of War, by Sun Tzu, translated by Samuel B. Griffith, pp. 1-56. London: Oxford University Press, 1963.

[In the following essay, Griffith discusses problems with determining the authorship of The Art of War, discrepancies in the size of the work, the nature of warfare in Sun Tzu's time, and Sun Tzu's influence on Mao Tse-Tung.]

I

THE AUTHOR

Over the centuries countless Chinese critics have devoted a great deal of attention to examination of literary works ascribed to the ‘classical’ period, an era usually defined as extending from 551 b.c., the probable birth...

(The entire section is 19539 words.)

Dennis and Ching Ping Bloodworth (essay date 1976)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Bloodworth, Dennis and Ching Ping. “Western Approaches” and “From the Top.” In The Chinese Machiavelli: 3,000 Years of Chinese Statecraft, pp. 306-21. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1976.

[In the following excerpt, Bloodworth and Bloodworth compare and contrast Sun-Tzu's philosophy with those of Machiavelli and Clausewitz and contend that the roots of modern Chinese military policy can be found in Sun-Tzu's instructions.]

The Italian world of Machiavelli was a distorted miniature of the Chinese world of Han Fei and Sun Tzu—a jigsaw puzzle of warring states that formed a single culture rather than a single realm, within which all foreigners were...

(The entire section is 5507 words.)

Ronald Glasberg (essay date 1992)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Glasberg, Ronald. “Toward a Cross-Cultural Language of Power: Sun Tzu's The Art of War and Machiavelli's The Prince as Exemplary Texts.” Comparative Civilizations Review no. 27 (fall 1992): 31-50.

[In the following essay, Glasberg outlines the profound philosophical differences that exist between The Art of War and Machiavelli's The Prince.]

In attempting to grasp the fundamental assumptions of any civilization, one has to go beyond the purely theoretical sphere associated with philosophy, religion, science and the arts and turn to what might be called the practical-theoretical sphere associated with a civilization's understanding of...

(The entire section is 7490 words.)

Roger T. Ames (essay date 1993)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Ames, Roger T. Introduction to The Art of Warfare: The First English Translation Incorporating the Recently Discovered Yin-Ch'üeh-Shan Texts, translated by Roger T. Ames, pp. 3-35. New York: Ballantine Books, 1993.

[In the following excerpt, Ames traces the complex manuscript history of The Art of War.]

THE “NEW” SUN-TZU

The Sun-tzu, or “Master Sun,” is the longest existing and most widely studied military classic in human history. Quite appropriately, it dates back to the Warring States period (c. 403-221 b.c.), a formative phase in Chinese civilization when contributions in literature and philosophy were...

(The entire section is 8819 words.)

Ralph D. Sawyer and Mei-Chün Sawyer (essay date 1993)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Sawyer, Ralph D. and Mei-Chün Sawyer. “General Introduction and Historical Background of the Classics.” In The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China, translated by Ralph D. Sawyer and Mei-Chün Sawyer, pp. 1-18. Boulder, Col.: Westview Press, 1993.

[In the following essay, Sawyer and Sawyer provide historical background to Chinese warfare and the evolution of weapons.]

Military thought, the complex product of both violent war and intellectual analysis, suffered from disparagement and disrepute during almost all the past two millennia in Imperial China. Ignoring the original teachings of Confucius, self-styled Confucians eschewed—whether sincerely or...

(The entire section is 13376 words.)

Roger T. Ames (essay date 1994)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Ames, Roger T. “Shih (Strategic Advantage/Political Purchase).” In The “Art of Rulership”: A Study of Ancient Chinese Political Thought, pp. 65-107. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994.

[In the following excerpt, Ames analyzes the concept of strategic advantage as described in The Art of War and traces how the concept changes in later works.]

The next concept to be analyzed in this exploration of the political philosophy of The Art of Rulership [Book Nine of the Huai Nan Tzu] is shih, “strategic advantage.” This concept has long been associated with the rise of the Legalist school as one of its three cardinal...

(The entire section is 23755 words.)

Ralph D. Sawyer and Mei-Chün Lee Sawyer (essay date 1996)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Sawyer, Ralph D. and Mei-Chün Lee Sawyer. Introduction to The Complete Art of War, by Sun Tzu and Sun Pin, translated by Ralph D. Sawyer and Mei-Chün Lee Sawyer, pp. 1-36. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1996.

[In the following essay, Sawyer and Sawyer offer historical background to Sun-Tzu's era and discuss the fundamentals of his writings.]

SUN TZU AND HIS ERA

THE SPRING AND AUTUMN PERIOD

The state of Chou, which had righteously overthrown the debauched Shang to found its own dynasty in 1045 b.c. upon an avowed foundation of moral virtue and benevolence, established its authority by dispatching royal clan...

(The entire section is 14547 words.)